MR. T. M. HEALY
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the published report of Professor E. Reynolds, of Trinity College, Dublin, warning the public of his discovery that the Dublin Gas Company, without notice to the citizens or the corporation, had turned 17 per cent. of carbon monoxide into their mains; did the Board of Trade receive any notice of this intermixture of water gas with coal gas in Dublin; is he aware that water 192 gas is the most deadly gaseous poison known, is absolutely fatal to animal life, and that its use as an illuminant has been made illegal in many American States; is he aware that leakages from the Dublin mains are constant, and that since the introduction of water gas the death rate amongst the population has risen so enormously that the Lord Lieutenant has appointed a Commission to investigate the cause; has he any information to show whether the poison from water gas is cumulative in the human system, and whether any remedy known to science exists for even cases of partial poisoning; and will the Government take any steps to protect the public from the admixture of this product with ordinary coal gas.
§ MR. RITCHIE
I have not seen the published Report to which the hon. and learned Member refers, but I understand that Professor Reynolds, in a lecture at Trinity College, recently made some, observations as to the increased proportion of carbonic oxide in the gas supplied in Dublin, due to the admixture of carburetted water gas with coal gas. The Board of Trade received no notice of the intention of the gas company to make any alterations in the nature of the gas, nor are the company required to give such notice, but they have now informed the Board that the plans of the necessary works were submitted to the corporation and their purpose explained. I am not aware that the use of water gas has been made illegal in any American State, but from the Report issued last year of a Home Office Departmental Committee, which inquired into the question of the supply of water gas it appears that in the United States carburetted water gas is very largely used, and formed in 1896 about seventy per cent. of the total gas supply. The hon. and learned Member will, by a perusal of the Report, obtain much information with reference to this interesting subject, which it is impossible to summarise in an answer to his question. The Local Government Board for Ireland inform me that they are not aware whether the high death rate is in any degree attributable to the alleged leakage of gas. The Commission appointed by the Lord Lieutenant has directed its inquiries into the general causes of the death rate, and pending the Report of the Commission that Board can express no definite opinion on the point.
MR. T. M. HEALY
Would there be any difficulty in granting to Irish Members such a Committee as was granted to the London Members with regard to the gas in London?
§ MR. RITCHIE
If the hon. and learned Gentleman will call at the Board of Trade we shall be glad to put before him all the information we possess.